Saturday, March 2, 2013

You Will Save You / Artist Statement

You Will Save You                                                                          
Artist: J Gavin Heck
Date: 3/1/2013


You Will Save You is a billboard style homage to a "ghost ad" that is one in a series of pieces I've done over that last 2 decades that remix simple publicly placed phrases and challenge social interaction and examination of the self and the need for external validation.   The original piece that inspired it is an ad in Baltimore City at 410 East Route 40, near Lexington Market that Reads “_____ Will Save You”.*  Once there was a word where the blank was, but over time nature eroded the full message.  Upon seeing it my first thought was simply “You”.  You Will Save You includes a raw iron oxide wash that should, over time begin to rust the message in a similar matter to the original, eventually obscuring the first You.  If the piece is censored the viewer will never get to experience the full piece as intended.
I'm inspired by artists, writers and theorists such as Robert Montgomery, Björk, Ron English, Ishmael Reed, Spencer Tunick. Gary Warne and Guy Debord but I purposefully choose to do pieces with less narrative that allow the message to be more fully interpreted and defined by the viewer.

The first piece in this series I (heart) NYC more than you was a reaction to Milton Glaser's iconic post 9/11 reaction to his "I (heart) NYC"...."I love NYC more than ever".   While Glaser's intent was to placate and support the public mood, mine was to remind NYC of it's edgy spirit.  What is Sleep?,Charlie Says**,  and my last 2 group shows, What is Green?** and If its Yellow focused on presenting local artists including developmentally disabled artists from the Providence Center in Brooklyn Maryland.  I've also created kinetic sculptures such as Two Goats Meet On A Bridge and Jazz Hand and a number of floats/performances for the Coney Island Mermaid Parade.  Goats was a tale of the dangers of poor mediation skills and Jazz Hand a simple celebration of movement and form.  All received awards, though that wasn't ever the point/focus.  I also had the luck to work with Spencer Tunick when I lived in NYC and while Rudolf Giuliani attempted to censor his and other artist’s works.   I had the pleasure of meeting Ron Kuby whosuccessfully defended Spencer’s right to speech, as art is an expression of speech.

As a war orphan and disabled veteran I hope my work inherently stimulates thought and potentially leads the viewer to participate in solutions that are internal, holistic and most likely to succeed.  A simple read of the piece could be that we are alone, in a godless disconnected world.  That is not my intention as I believe personally that we are innately connected to everyone and everything around us.  Hopefully it should inspire us to love and nourish the world, first focusing on the self as we are simply the most likely to achieve that goal. 

I strongly believe that politicians who believe they need to protect people from simple messages that could be broadly interpreted should work on more crucial, life threatening issues.  I also believe it is crucial to realize that when individuals have strong negative reactions to simple messages like this piece the negativity comes from the realization of the challenge to change and removing the piece removes the stimulus and thus the hope for that change.


James Gavin Heck

Baltimore, MD

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